It’s October 1, and we all know what that means:  autumn is in the air. Leaves are turning color on the trees. Little Brother’s soccer team is practicing in the dark because the sun sets before 7 PM. TheDad is thinking about closing the pool. There are already Halloween decorations adorning several houses and yards on my block.

breast cancer eggsAnd all things pink ribbon are popping up everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.

Even in the dairy department, where each and every Egg-Land’s Best egg is stamped with a little pink ribbon.


I am well aware that breast cancer exists. My mother-in-law had it. Like any cancer, it is a horrible disease. It affects too many people. It kills too many people.

I get that.

What I don’t get is how breast cancer, unlike any other cancer (such as sarcoma, which TheDad was diagnosed with two years ago; or melanoma, which killed a friend of mine ten years ago; or other skin cancers, kidney cancer or prostate cancer, all of which my father has had) has become a movement in itself.

Every disease should have breast cancer’s pink-ribbon marketing team.

But the pink ribbons make me mad, because they remind me that some of the organizations behind those ribbons take some of the money that people think they are giving to cancer research and donate it to the nation’s largest abortion provider.

I don’t go out of my way not to purchase things with pink ribbons on them, but I won’t go out of my way to buy them either.

I bought the pink-ribbon eggs because Little Brother eats two eggs every morning and they were on sale and I had a coupon. The pink-ribbon eggs were 10 cents per egg, as opposed to 15 cents per un-decorated eggs. So I bought them and we will use them.

But when I see the pink ribbon all over everything this month, I will try to remember to pray not only for the victims of breast cancer, but the victims of abortions that are being funded by organizations that raise money in the name of breast cancer.

I Am Mommy. Hear Me Roar.

On Tuesday, Little Brother is going on a field trip. That’s the kind of thing that happens in May. Since we live very near Philadelphia, his school often schedules field trips that take advantage of the many historical and educational resources of that city. This year they’re visiting a seaport museum and wrapping up the day at City Tavern, where they will be served a Colonial-style meal. city tavernThe students will dine on Tavern Country Salad with raspberry shrub dressing, lightly-breaded chicken breast, mashed potato, vegetables, Thomas Jefferson biscuits, Sally Lunn bread, and fruit cobbler.

That’s a far cry from the brown-bagged PBJ, juice box and granola bar he usually gets on a field trip.

I got in touch with City Tavern to ask for nutrition information about their food. After playing phone tag with their events coordinator for several days, she finally called me back this morning and very sweetly assured me that she’d speak to the chef and find out what I needed to know.

Two hours later she called me back and informed me that I was out of luck. While she could list all the foods they’d be eating, she couldn’t get me any nutrition information. Since they’re not a chain, they don’t have to provide that, and clearly they aren’t interested in doing so.

It’s really not fun to play Guess the Carbs in a restaurant, and I was hoping that since we’d inquired ahead of time (and I made the first call more than a week in advance of the trip) that the restaurant could help us figure things out.


The restaurant’s website urges visitors: “In order to help us maintain a historic atmosphere, please refrain from the use of cell phones.” Well, that’s NOT going to happen, since Hubs will need to consult the Calorie King website to try to figure out what the restaurant refuses to tell him, despite the other thing they mention on their site:  “Should you have any culinary requests, please do not hesitate to ask any member of our staff.”

I guess nutrition information isn’t considered a “culinary request.”

We can guess on things like mashed potatoes and vegetables and even the chicken. But Little Brother has eaten there before on a field trip (before diabetes) and he was all about the bread. I did a simple google search on “Thomas Jefferson biscuits” and the third result is that restaurant’s own recipe.

nutrition city tavern philly Jefferson sweet potato pecan biscuitsIt took me less than three minutes to plug that recipe into the analysis tool at Calorie Count and generate a nutrition label. I’ll be printing it out, along with the recipe, and packing it with Little Brother’s diabetes supplies that Hubs will be carrying on the trip.

I hope Hubs hands them that piece of paper on his way out.

If he doesn’t, I’m mailing it in.

All I requested was information. Not trade secrets. Not recipes. Just nutrition information because my child has a medical need that requires me to know what’s in the food he eats. And as I just proved, this information is not difficult to acquire.

You’re next, Sally Lunn.

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers About Timing

With two weeks to go until Tech Week, I sent out a second long email last night, begging for donations.leaning tower of beverages

There are some nights when I only have 3 helpers (we really need about 10 people) and there are still a lot of food items that we need.

Excuse me while I panic now, over the possibility that I’ll have to finance 600 chicken nuggets, 6 bags of tater tots, 42 cups of fresh fruit, 8 dozen eggs, and 7 crockpots of soup with 10 servings each.

Apparently everyone likes soup, but no one wants to bring any.

Several people responded immediately with a generous list of what they could donate, and I’m thrilled about that.

This morning I woke up to an email that began, “I was waiting for the latest update…” and another one with, “Let me know what else you need. I can contribute more.”

I am trying to balance my gratitude over the generous offers with my frustration that they wanted to wait and see what blanks would be filled in before they offered to fill any.

Frustration is winning. And I can’t let it show, because I am asking people to be generous with their time and donations of food.

My prayer today is for trust:  that in the end, we’ll have what we need. If I had a deeper trust, I wouldn’t be so worried about this right now.


Controlled Environments Don’t Build Community

trunk or treat

This fall, one of our Township Council members suggested a new-to-us event:  Trunk or Treat. It would be held during daytime hours on a weekend day just before Halloween. Children 10 and under who register ahead of time can participate.

Sounds nice, right? It did to me, too. For a while. Then I read an article in today’s paper and it got me thinking that maybe this isn’t the best idea after all.

The lede gets right up in your face about it:

Billed as a safer alternative than going door-to-door on Halloween, the township plans to host its first “Trunk or Treat” for younger children in the community. (emphasis mine)

If you’re a busy parent of young children, and especially if you work long hours outside the home, you’re going to be thrilled about the prospect of this event. Daytime trick-or-treat with no streets to cross! What’s not to like? You’re off the hook on Halloween itself, when you might be tired and the kids might be cranky after a long day at school or daycare.

If you’re the parent of older (middle-school to young adult) children, or an empty-nester, or someone without children, you might not like it so much at all.

I’m not trying to rain on the parade of the young parent, but Halloween is for everyone! Those of us who don’t have three-year-olds anymore still enjoy standing at the front door with a candy basket, handing out Hershey bars and Utz pretzels to little ones in cute costumes who sometimes forget to say “Trick or Treat!” but who are completely adorable nonetheless. Now, the Township is expecting to host 300 to 400 little kids whose parents may very well just decide not to take the kids out in the neighborhood on Halloween.

Another town councilman observed that this event brings together the community. I beg to differ. It Balkanizes the community, and frankly, we’ve got enough of that going on already. The public schools in this town, as in most towns, are no longer neighborhood schools with communities surrounding them. They’re K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and high school. Unless they have several children, parents rarely get to mix with people whose kids are of different ages than their own.

Most houses in this town have back decks rather than front porches. We’ve been here 15 years and there are neighbors within sight of our house whom we’ve never once met. That fault lies as much with us as it does with them, but Halloween is one of those times, especially when the weather is good, that brings people out into their front yards to chat with neighbors whose names they might not even know. It brings together the community.

In my household, Hubs takes the kids Trick-or-Treating while I stay home handing out the treats. He says that, by far, the best Halloween was in 2001. So soon after 9/11, not many people took their kids out on Halloween. The kids got a terrific reception at each house they visited, and their knock at the door brought smiles to the faces of the homeowners with their candy bowls. “We haven’t seen too many kids out this year,” they’d tell my husband, encouraging the kids to take a whole handful of treats.

This is a “community” in which kids as young as 8 find themselves scheduled for sports practices on Halloween. Every year, we see fewer trick-or-treaters.

And now we want to “build community” by controlling the environment. That’s a pretty narrow and exclusive community that’s being built.

I’m all about safety and I think that providing small children a way to trick-or-treat without having to remember to look both ways is a nice idea. But parents could hold the children’s hands or give them a ride in a wagon or stroller, so that the joy of the small child all decked out in a Halloween costume can be shared by everyone in the community–not just people with decorated cars and tickets to get in. All these efforts to protect a few people steal a lot of the fun away from everyone.

Think about it. And don’t rain on the whole community’s Halloween parade.

Much Ado About (Paying) Nothing

Because I write for several shopping blogs, I come across a lot of offers for free or inexpensive items. It’s my job to choose several of these each week to highlight at one of these blogs.

Many of these offers come from the Facebook pages of shops, restaurants or other companies.

Usually I just write up the deal, link to the source and get on with things, but in the past couple of days I’ve read a few of the comments attached to the posts announcing some of these specials.

Yesterday, as I printed out my weekly coupon from the Dunkin’ Philly Fan Zone, some of the comments on the page were blasting Dunkin’ Donuts for offering a breakfast-sandwich coupon instead of one for iced coffee. On other posts for past coupons, people complained that other stores were offering better deals. Or they complain that these coupons are only good Monday through Thursday.

Today, I was posting a deal for teachers from Chipotle Mexican Grill and saw that many commenters complained because the restaurant hadn’t offered a freebie for nurses, daycare providers, student teachers and homeschoolers.

What an entitlement mentality!

I’m a former teacher, so I don’t expect Chipotle to give me free food tonight. And I’m happy for the low-priced breakfast sandwich coupon, but if I weren’t a breakfast-sandwich fan, I just wouldn’t print a Dunkin’ Donuts coupon this week. Next week, after all, there will be another.

These stores issue coupons to get customers in the door and generate some goodwill in the community. I didn’t see a whole lot of goodwill on the Facebook pages for either establishment regarding these offers, and that’s a shame. It’s people like those commenters on Facebook that will ruin things for everyone else, because the stores will eventually give up and stop giving out coupons and freebies.

Can’t use the coupon this time? Don’t qualify for the free offer this time? Oh well! Maybe next time you will. In the meantime, be grateful that the store still offers special deals and stop blasting them because each and every deal is not for you.

Murphy’s Law Morning

I have been awake for less than 5 hours today. And already, the following “glitches” have taken place:

  • Little Brother was most ungracious (not to mention greedy) upon finding out that the Tooth Fairy had left her usual $1 instead of the $5 that some of his classmates get.
  • TheDad informed me that his car HAD to go to the mechanic TODAY because some “your car will explode if you don’t go to the mechanic” indicator light had lit up on his dashboard.
  • That meant that I had to commandeer Middle Sister’s car and take her to school and force her to (indignity of indignities) ride the bus home today.
  • Little Brother came thisclose to missing HIS bus because he hadn’t packed his schoolbag last night, like I’d asked him to.
  • Middle Sister had a pretty empty gas tank.
  • I had to follow TheDad to the car dealership and then he had to take me back home. ALL of this was before I even got a cup of coffee, not to mention breakfast.
  • I thought maybe there would be a diner run on the way back from Hyundai City, but no…(and poor Hubs is first of all not a mind-reader and second of all WAY too busy at work right now so I know there was no time for a diner run. But a girl can dream. Especially when she needs coffee.)
  • Middle Sister started sending me angry texts because the discombobulation of HER morning meant that she’d forgotten some important papers on the coffee table.
  • A piece of the splashguard of my stand mixer detached itself when I was making cookies for Big Brother, who’s coming home for dinner tonight.
  • Little Brother’s coach emailed the date and time of the CYO basketball playoff game:  smack in the middle of a Tech Week rehearsal for Annie Jr. (I’m dealing with that by praying for snow.)
  • I found a broken zipper pull in the dryer’s lint filter. Inspecting the laundry, I discovered that it had come off the Notre Dame hoodie that I JUST got for Christmas.

None of this is “big stuff” but it’s the little stuff that really gets to me.

I could really use a reboot here, especially since in just a couple of hours, I have a Secular Franciscans meeting and there will be guests, so I am WAY outside my comfort zone on this one (introvert problems). It’s not that the guests aren’t welcome–I’m glad they’ll be there. But I find it tough enough to conduct a meeting when it’s “just us,” never mind up to 10 extra people, some of whom are strangers.

And I have to make sure I’m out of that meeting on time to pick up Little Brother and his friend at Chess Club after school.

At the moment, I’m kind of afraid to touch anything or go anywhere! I could really use a double dose of Grace and Dignity right about now.

I Do Not Like This, Uncle-Sam-I-Am

There was a blood-donation drive at our parish today, and Middle Sister wanted to donate. She’s 16, and that’s old enough if she brings along a parent to sign a permission slip. So I took her over there, filled out the form, and sat with her while she read the packet of information and disclaimers that she was handed.

Finally her name was called and we went over to the desk where the nurse was taking medical histories. First Middle Sister had to produce an ID with her date of birth. A school ID wasn’t going to do it, and I reminded her that she had her driver’s permit in her handbag. Then the nurse told me that I wasn’t allowed to be there. Citing “privacy issues,” she said that while my daughter gave her medical history, I couldn’t be present. I could, however, stand next to the table where they would take the blood out of her arm. That is, if I weren’t so squeamish about things like that. (I’ll drive you to the ER if you don’t make me look at the wound.)

So I had to go sit on the other side of the room while my underage daughter gave her medical history. She is not old enough to get an Advil from the school nurse if she has a migraine without parental permission, let alone donate blood or get her ears pierced (or any other body part). I accompany her to medical appointments. But I AM NOT ALLOWED to listen to my minor child give her medical history.

Can you tell I’m not a fan of this policy? My daughter wasn’t asking me to please go away. She didn’t seem to care one way or the other, which is comforting to me. If the patient doesn’t care that a parent is there during the medical history, why is it a problem for the nurse?

I was only able to find a small amount of information regarding confidentiality on the Red Cross website:

The Red Cross maintains the confidentiality of information we obtain about a donor and will release a donor’s confidential information to his or her parents only with the donor’s consent.

Is this all part of HIPAA, or is this something new? Regardless, I don’t like it. Not one bit. If she is young enough to require my signature before she can give blood, she is young enough that I can still listen to her medical history.

And after all that, her iron was JUST shy of the benchmark required for blood donation. So this was all for nothing.

Letter Perfect

The kids are on notice.

That stack below the sign contains 6 towels that have been left here over the course of the summer.  I don’t launder them anymore–I just hang them on the line, fold them, and pile them next to the Lost & Found basket that contains someone’s bug spray, someone’s swim goggles, someone’s sunglasses.  When kids come over here I interrogate them about whose towels these are.  No one knows–but the teenagers use them anyway (ewwwwwwwww).

I wonder if any of these towels will miraculously find a home in the days to come, or if the ManageMOM will get to dispose of them as she sees fit?

What’s Not to Know?

I’ve been browsing around on some hardware-store websites, trying to find some light bulbs for the lights in the family room. (They’re high-hats, and incandescent bulbs heat up too fast and blow out in 10 minutes. But the CFLs never get bright enough to read by.)

One of the websites had a place to enter my zip code so I could check store availability. When I clicked on the link for that, a little box popped up with a place to enter my zip code–or I could check another link: “I don’t know my zip code.”

Really? Are there people who can access a website and search for a product without knowing their zip code? I’d like to meet them.

Then again, maybe I wouldn’t like to meet them. Yikes!

When I Become Principal

Not in this lifetime, but for the purposes of this rant…

I spent about an hour after Little Brother got home from school today dealing with all the paper he brought home. Not to mention all the stuff that was on the website that I had to print out, fill in and send back–and the $73 in checks that had to go in as well.

But I digress. I’m here to rant about forms.

I had to fill in a whole bunch of forms today. That in itself is not so bad, but it’s all the duplication that gets me. That, and having to write my last name multiple times.

Wouldn’t it be easier, since almost all of this paper is going to live in the main office anyway, if there were one form with several sections instead of separate forms for all of these:

Basic Information Form (name, address, phone, email, student day of birth, parents’ work and cell phones, 2 emergency contacts, bus number, parish & sacrament information, doctor’s name, hospital preference, insurance company number, special health considerations, signature)

Nurse’s Information Form (name, address, phone, parents’ work & cell phones, “which parent do we call first,” 2 emergency contacts, doctor’s name, special health considerations, “has your child received immunizations this past year”)–note that all but 2 of these are covered in the Basic Information Form

Family Directory Form (name, address, phone, email, “do you want to be in the directory”)

Permission to use child’s photo on school website or in newspaper articles/ads

Technology Acceptable Use Policy

My last name is 12 letters long, with lots of pesky consonants. I have the feeling that if school administrators had a last name like mine, they’d be less likely to require all these separate forms with separate signatures.

Hello, new school year! Hello, writer’s cramp!